REVIEW – Black Widows by Cate Quinn

The unreliable narrator is still a very popular trope in mysteries and thrillers. Well, Black Widows has THREE. Three women who are suspects in the death of their (yes, their) husband. This book takes the standard thriller and adds a sister wives/XX kids and counting element. It’s grittier than I expected (which isn’t a bad thing) but this ended up being a fun read “for the moment” and won’t be something I remember much years from now.

Content warnings: religious fanaticism, cults, sexual assault, child abuse, sexual assault of children, drug use, self-harm, brief mention of suicide, miscarriage.

Thank you BiblioLifestyle and Sourcebooks for the ARC!

REVIEW – The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

What a fun little read! The Forever Girl has a great balance of lighthearted, funny moments and heavier, heartfelt, emotional moments.

Maze, Walker, Heather and Cat are siblings of the heart. Cat’s parents fostered Maze, Walker and Heather a number of years ago. Their time together as kids was short-lived due to an unimaginable tragedy, but they have stayed in touch over the years. With Cat’s wedding weekend approaching, she takes the opportunity to force everyone back together to see if they can rekindle the strong bond they once had.

Although the events of this book are somewhat predictable (let’s say “reliable” – it’s a much more positive way of putting it!) it’s still a good read. There’s also a small amount of steam in this story that I wasn’t expecting!

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the free book!

REVIEW – A Mother’s Lie by Sarah Zettel

If you’re looking for a quick, heart-racing thriller, this is the book for you! Beth has worked so hard to keep her daughter Dana safe – which has meant keeping her away from Beth’s family. When a woman approaches Dana claiming to be her grandmother, everything unravels.

I read this in less than 24 hours – it’s definitely a page-turner with quick, punchy chapters that kept me wanting (NEEDING!) to know what was going to happen next.

As far as the thriller genre goes, I wouldn’t say this one is particularly memorable, but it is one of those great books that’s perfect when you’re searching for an easy thriller read.

Thank you Bibliofinder and Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of this book.

REVIEW – Westering Women by Sandra Dallas

“Being part of our group of women has been the greatest adventure of my life. 
I have been part of a remarkable journey with you and the others. We are sisters. We are a band of sisters.”

Westering Women is the story of 44 women (and two ministers) making the journey west on the Overland Trail from Chicago to California. The intent is that the women will find husbands once they reach their destination, but many of the travelers have dark secrets that threaten their lives (and, ultimately, the lives of those traveling with them).

“I do not know the meaning of death, but there is meaning to life.”

The good? The eventual bond between these women is great. They stand up for each other, they protect each other, they keep each other’s secrets. The women are tough and resilient, despite the conditions they face on the trail, including disease, death, violence, rough terrain and harsh weather. Mary, especially, is an incredible character, and I would love to read a book focusing on women like her during that time. She quickly takes on a leadership role for a multitude of reasons, and she’s the shining star in this book despite not being the main character.

The not so good? I found the dialogue to be a bit stilted at times, but this could be a symptom of the time period in which it’s set (I haven’t read many books set in the 1800s so this might be my issue and not the book’s). I also found it to be inconsistent in its approach to hardships – it seemed like some of the issues and events were very brutal and upsetting for the overall tone of the book, but other issues were just kind of brushed aside too easily.

And the problematic? I felt that the story glossed over the role of Native Americans during this time period, and applied a harmful, racist lens overall. Although those traveling to California were attacked by Native Americans on the trail, it seemed like the book did little to dispel the “savage, violent, greedy” stereotype that had incredibly harmful repercussions, the effects of which are still evident today.

I do think this book will go over well with a lot of people – it has enough “grit” that it’s interesting but is also precious and fluffy enough that many readers will still find it palatable.

Content warning: assault, attempted rape/rape (at times involving children), death of children.

Thank you Bibliofinder and St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of this book.